Choosing Pantones for Waterbase Screenprinting

While printing towels for Wine Winks, my client and I noticed some of our colors weren't coming out as expected. Our towels are off-white, and the results were close, but not spot-on. Confused, we reached out to the screenprinter for advice.

We learned color accuracy is affected by the Pantone color itself. Specifically, Pantones created with a transparent base are tough to match, while Pantones with a white or charcoal base are easiest.

find your Pantone base:

  1. Pull out your Pantone book and go to a random page. I'm on page 133U.
  2. Look at the color in the middle of your page. Mine is 2935U.
    Middle section = PIGMENT + TRANSPARENT BASE
    This color outcome is the toughest to predict accurately, because transparent. Unless its printed on the whitest white ever, it's going to be most affected by your medium.
  3. Look at the color on the top of your page. Mine is 2905U.
    Upper section = PIGMENT + WHITE BASE
    This color outcome will be closer to your Pantone book because it has a base in it.
  4. Look at the color at the bottom of your page. Mine is 2965U.
    Lower section = PIGMENT + CHARCOAL BASE
    This color outcome will be closer to your Pantone book because it has a base in it.

Here's a pull quote from my screenprinter:

"A few things to keep in mind when looking at a Pantone book.  The very center chip on the page is the most transparent, that color will be based out of primary pigment and put into a fully transparent base of ink.  The farther you go up the Pantone book page, the more opaque white base is used, the farther you go down the book, the more opaque charcoal base is used.  We have more flexibility on matching color when using the opaque tones, they are less transparent and less affected by substrate."

Shoutout to Silva Screenprinting in Minneapolis, MN who has been a great partner this past year.